MAGNETIC REFRAIN

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About Me

I am a poet, scholar and teacher who teaches creative writing and college composition in Los Angeles. As a Korean-American adoptee, my creative and scholarly work reflect an ongoing interest to explore the emotional and historical aspects of the Korean diaspora as well as transnational and transracial adoption.  Previously, I collaborated on avante-garde music and art projects with composers and visual artists. I have advanced degrees in poetry, (M.F.A. degree in poetry, 2002 and M.A. in Literature, 2010) and a Ph.D. degree in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Southern California (2012).  My first book of poetry, Magnetic Refrain, was published in February 2013 by Kaya Press, an independent press in L.A. that focuses on publishing edgy voices from the Asian Pacific diasporas.

I am currently completing a second book, lyrical and narrative poems Until Qualified For Pearl and a novel entitled, Missing Persons, that takes its inspiration from Tolstoy’s famous opening lines, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” It is my first novel, inspired by the month-long writing frenzy known as NaNoWriMo, in which writers across the nation make a commitment to write at least 6 pages per day for the full month of November 2014, and wind up with a finished novel (or more like a novella) by the end of the writing marathon. It was exhilarating! In my novel, the protagonist Angela is a young, biracial teenager who tells the saga of how her family is torn apart—across generations— during tragic events that force each member of the family to go “missing,” both literally and figuratively.

My third project is a collection of autobiographical, critical essays about transracial and transnational adoption, entitled Vaguely Asian: Being In-Between As a Korean Adoptee that looks at how the phenomenon of Korean adoption is the other ‘Forgotten war’ that has divided and displaced  families. Similar to the situation of separated families in North and South Korea, Korean adoptees now number approximately 200,000 individuals who are scattered across the globe, many of them forcibly prevented from reuniting because of falsified or missing documentation, cultural barriers, and an ongoing international adoption industry that creates “social orphans” as a profitable market and solution to social welfare.

backofbeyond_08In the recent past, I have collaborated with the contemporary realist painter, Deborah Martin, on her new series, “Back of Beyond,” beautiful paintings based on imagery set in The Wonder Valley, where she is currently residing, and Narrowlands, her most recent project. My poetry series accompanied her art exhibit this past fall at the George Billis Gallery in Culver City, CA.  Quintan Ana Wikswo has said of Martin, “Painter Deborah Martin has established a compelling dominion as portraitist of an archaic America – ravaged sites and forgotten wastelands that nonetheless resist destruction. Her luminous paintings and photographs reveal the beauty in the bleak, and speak to the tenuous balance between home, depravation, isolation, community and hope.”

As a lyricist and enthusiastic noraebang (karaoke) singer, I have also collaborated with the composer, musician and Hong Kong native, Alan Chan, writing lyrics to accompany his original music.  One of our collaborations, an art song set to classical music, “Without a Trail to Lace” won First Place for the 2008 PAS competition.  It is available on HoneyRock, to purchase as sheet music.

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